After spending just over two months in big city Austin, we were really looking forward to a quiet spot to relax and boy did we find it! We headed southeast to the Bolivar Peninsula and after a non eventful trip through busy Houston on I-10, we arrived around 2pm. The Bolivar Peninsula is across the Galveston Bay from touristy Galveston. There are a handful of local restaurants, small RV parks, an all in one grocery, beach and hardware store, a small Family Dollar, Dollar General and a couple gas stations. That is about it. No huge t-shirt shops, no chain restaurants and certainly not alot of tourists. There are some folks that come in for the weekend but that is about it. Peace and quiet is the name of the game and just what we wanted!
We are staying at The Lazy Pelican RV Park and what a wonderful hidden gem it is! The owner, Chris and his wife Bunny, live nearby and are always around to help you out but give you lots of space. They are wonderful hosts who are always bettering the park in some way. The park has 37 FHU sites with picnic tables and concrete pads, screaming free wifi and...wait for it...FREE LAUNDRY! Who does that? The laundry room is a little FEMA trailer that he has gutted out, but left the bathroom. There are 3 washers and 3 dryers, a folding table, and a hanging rod and even a little library with books and videos. There is also palm trees scattered throughout the park, grass at each site and a cute little tiki hut and pergola area to relax and watch the sun rise or set. The park is on the beach side of 87, the only main road on the peninsula and is on a dead end road, so really only local traffic. It is very quiet at night and peaceful during the day. We have enjoyed sitting outside and reading at our site. We really think we have one of the best sites since our sitting area borders the pergola area and is separated by 4 lovely palm trees.
Sunrises and sunsets here are pretty nice and Rick has been getting shots of both.
In order to get to civilization, as the locals here call it, or Galveston, you need to take a car ferry which is operated by the TX DOT. They operate 24/7, 365 days a year. There is always one ferry in operation, with at second ferry coming online at 6:30am and others as needed. Each ferry can hold up to 20 vehicles. Semis and larger vehicles are also permitted as long as they are under 13'6" tall and weigh less than 80,000 pds. We are actually going to take the RV on as we leave the peninsula. We just need to call ahead to let them know a vehicle of our size is coming on so they can arrange vehicles appropriately.
Our first ride on the ferry was a rainy and very foggy day, which made it a bit nerve wracking with the big dually and not knowing the process. We were fine though and enjoyed the ride. Our next ferry ride was a better day and we were able to see the sights and the dolphins jumping around the ferry. There always seems to be alot of large ships waiting in the gulf area to either be offloaded or led in with a tug. And then there are the birds. Lots of birds. This area has alot of bird sanctuaries as well as your normal gull flocks. They like to lead the ferry back and forth.
There is an interesting wreck left in the harbor area that you pass on the ferry. The SS Selma was an experimental concrete ship from the WW1 era and had a short stint as a oil tanker until it hit a jetty and cracked. It sits in that spot still today.
There is also the Seawolf Park as you come into Galveston. The museum features a WWII submarine, USS Cavalla, and one of only three destroyer escorts in the world, the USS Stewart. Unfortunately they are currently under restoration so we can't tour them.
Just before you get onto the ferry on the peninsula side, there is a neat park called Fort Travis Seashore Park. It dates back to 1819 when troops came to the area to liberate the Spanish Province. The Fort was in service from that time, through the Civil War when federal troops took possession of the Fort and again through WW1 and WW11. In 1949 the fort was closed and sold as surplus property. The 60 acre park was developed in 1976 and you can still see most of the batteries and some of the buildings used. Being situated right on the end of the peninsula, it is a great place to come and watch the big ships and enjoy the views of the water.
The peninsula also has a lighthouse that is privately owned and a cool jetty that runs out about 5 miles into the water. You can walk out about 2 miles out and the first 200 yards is paved. The day we visited, we saw alot of crabbers and fisherman out at this popular spot.
We have also spent our fair share of time on the beach searching for shells and shark teeth. We have found some cool shells but the shark teeth have eluded us. We will continue our quest to find at least one. The other cool thing about the peninsula is that you can drive your vehicle or gulf cart out on the beach, so of course we had to get some beach truck porn! We even saw a schoolie camping out, but on a very windy day!
We also continued our BBQ tour through Texas with the Texas BBQ Pit Stop in Galveston. These folks used to travel the BBQ competition circuit and have now opened a couple restaurants. Some good, moist brisket and pulled pork, but still Valentina's in Austin is our favorite!
Other than that, we have visited the Galveston Island State Park and expanded our RV'ing friend bank when we visited with Rick and Vonceil Cook, fellow Grand Design Solitude owners who are staying at Stella Mare RV Resort over in Galveston. We also spent a day in Houston while Rick renewed his ServSafe certification.
We have enjoyed just chillin, our daily beach walks and getting ready for our little side cruise excursion while we are here. Yep, we splurged and gave ourselves a cruise for Christmas. Well, if you call $188 each for a 5 day/4 night cruise on Royal Carribean a splurge. I call it a steal we couldn't pass up! More on that adventure in our next update! Stay tuned!
The last two months have gone by fast but we are ready to move on to our next destination on the Gulf Coast near Galveston. We have had a great time getting to know Austin and all it has to offer. We have really enjoyed our time here at McKinney Falls State Park and if anyone is looking for an easy volunteer opportunity for the summer, these are fantastic folks who really appreciate the volunteers! Every day we were thanked for what we do. There are two things we will not miss about Austin though...THE TRASH and THE TRAFFIC! I cannot begin to describe the amount of trash that is on the sides of the roads. It is everywhere! It is really sad to see for such a vibrant city. I imagine people coming in to the State Park think it is an oasis because they keep it really clean, but that is hard work since folks seem to bring their bad habits of just throwing things on the ground with them. Runner up would be the traffic. Austin is growing exponentially and so is the traffic. The roads just cannot keep up and there is construction everywhere. The roads not under construction really need help too. Ok, rant over.
In our last couple weeks here we went to visit Bastrop State Park, had coffee with an employee/supervisor that I will be working with at a new virtual job this spring (more on that later) and had several friends over and made some new ones too.
We also took a drive down to New Braunfels and the Gruene Historic District where we walked around the historic little town on the beautiful Guadalupe River and ate some of the best Chicken Fried Steak at the Gristmill as declared by Food Network...and me!
We also ate at another BBQ joint that Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives visited. Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ is a cool little stationary food truck in Austin that serves brisket and pulled pork either in Tex BBQ style or Mex taco style. We opted for the Tex BBQ version and we were lucky enough to get some of the last brisket since they sold out a couple folks behind us. Let me say that it was probably some of the best BBQ and sides we have had. We had the tangy slaw and roasted corn with it. They also had a really good BBQ sauce! Different from other BBQ joints is that they do not specifically weigh the meat and then you pay the exact amount. You pay for half a pound up front. Looking at our portions, they use the heavy half pound method! Score!!!
On Christmas Eve we made our way back downtown, hoping for empty streets and parking and we were gifted with wide open roads and a place to park the big truck so we could go to the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum. We found it very informative since this was mostly before our times. It was also very interesting to see all of the programs that LBJ instituted during his time as president, such as Medicare, Civil Rights Act, Fair Housing, Child Safety guidelines and Vietnam Veterans Benefits, to name a few. Unfortunately, we both thought the Bush museum was much better, more interactive and not as much comprehensive reading. We still enjoyed the short videos they had throughout, which helped us to better understand the times back then. We are making sure to hit every presidential museum when in the area.
They also had a Motown 60th anniversary exhibit that was really cool to see. Rick even got to practice his do wop with the Temptations.
Christmas was quiet here and since we were the only Park Hosts here on Christmas Day we fielded the camper questions and issues and kept a "presence" in the park. Even though our normal host routine is to clean the bathrooms, clean up sites for the next camper and run the trails on the gator for trash, we had initiated some other projects ourselves to better the park and the staff has really appreciated our efforts.
They even included us in their Christmas party where we ate some great food, sang some karaoke, exchanged white elephant gifts and got our 100 hour TX Parks service pins.
This last weekend in Austin we will be filled with packing up Christmas decorations, cleaning and readying the rig but we are still making time for some friends to visit as well. We will leave out on New Years Eve morning and head southeast to the gulf in anticipation of some pretty cool New Years Eve fireworks on the beach to ring in the New Year! Here's to a fantastic New Year filled with laughter, love and adventure!!!
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